What’s Love Got To Do With Tina Turner?

Music | December 16, 2018

Left: Tina Turner with Ike. Right: on her own. Sources: nightflight.com; Pinterest

The smashing Tina Turner took the music world by storm, bringing more than just music to her fans. Her performances have always been high-energy entertainment. Worth around $300 million, she achieved the Guinness World Record for the most concert tickets sold as a solo artist.

Rolling Stone magazine has called Turner one of the greatest singers of all time. One of her most popular hits is "What’s Love Got To Do With It?" which she won a Grammy Award for. With a total of eight Grammy Awards, four of them were for Private Dancer. Other Grammy Awards she has won include "Proud Mary" and "River Deep, Mountain High."

The Beginning

Ike and Tina Turner. Source: britannica.com

Tina Turner’s success goes back to the 1950's when she met Ike Turner. But her life began before that, in November of 1939 in Tennessee, when she was born as Anna May Bullock to her parents, Zelma Priscilla and Floyd Richard Bullock. She had a difficult childhood. As an overseer of sharecroppers, her father was abusive to her mother. During World War II, she had to go live with her grandparents. After the war, her parents came to Knoxville where she was staying. Tired of the abuse, her mother ran away.

Tough Teenage Years

When Anna May Bullock was 13, her father remarried and abandoned her and her sister. She went to live with her grandmother and became a domestic worker up until she passed away. Tina was only 16 at the time so she had to go live with her mother. Her first experience with love ended in heartbreak when she discovered that Harry (who was very popular with the girls in school) had married one of the other girls that he had gotten pregnant.  

Ike And Tina

(Photo from rollingstone.com)

Tina was raised as a Baptist and when she was very young, would sing in the church choir. After going to live with her mother, she had met Ike Turner at Club Manhattan, where she and her older sister would go routinely to listen to the music. Ike Turner was playing there with his band the Kings of Rhythm. On one of these visits, she was offered the chance to sing for Ike, which he liked so Tina began recording with him in 1958. In the same year, she had gotten pregnant at the age of 18 by the sax player, Raymond, whom she was dating. Her mother did not approve of unwed pregnancy so she threw her and her child, Craig, out of the house. Consequently, she moved in with Raymond, who was living with Ike at the time but eventually, the relationship with Raymond ended. At that time, she and Ike were only friends professionally. In 1960, their duet "A Fool In Love," became number two on the Hot R&B Sides. They became popular and were doing performances all over the world. By 1962, they made their relationship more personal and permanent by getting married.  

The End Of Ike And Tina

Tina Turner (Photo from thenet.ng)

For a while, the duo was doing fine singing together, rubbing shoulders with big names like Elvis Presley and Elton John as well as making appearances on shows like The Ed Sullivan Show. They were a hit doing gospel music and were nominated Best Soul Gospel Performance for The Gospel According to Ike and Tina. Around the mid-1970's, things began to change between them. Ike had gotten heavy into drugs and alcohol. Addicted to cocaine and a demonstrative alcoholic, he began to beat her. Their first abusive fight was when he wanted her to change her name to Tina. He liked the character, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, and wanted her to portray that image. Things began to go downhill from there as his addictions got worse. Finally, in July of 1976, they were on their way from Los Angeles to Dallas to sign a five-year contract with Cream Records on July 6. On July 2, they stopped over to do a gig at Dallas Statler Hilton. On the way to the hotel, they got into a fight and, after Ike passed out on the sofa, she grabbed up a few things, along with a hat and scarf, and left. She filed for divorce in 1976 and it became final in 1978.

Tina Turner On Her Own

Tina Turner (Photo from thefamouspeople.com)

With the divorce final, Tina agreed to accept some losses but she did retain the right to use his last name in order to salvage her career. At first, it was a major struggle for her, and her career did, in fact, take a hit for a while. First, she started appearing on various shows like Donny & Marie and Hollywood Squares. Her albums Rough and Love Explosion did not help her career, but she did not give up. She was very determined to make it on her own -- which she did. By 1983, she had achieved her first solo pop hit with "Let’s Stay Together." In 1984, she released her comeback album Private Dancer which sold around 20 million copies. She has appeared in a number of movies as well. She also published an autobiography, I, Tina, and went on to produce the movie about her life What’s Love Got To Do With It, which took its title from a hit single she also wrote about her life with Ike. Fake news came out in 2012 and 2018 that she had died but that turned out to be false.

While Tina Turner has overcome a lot in her life and become quite successful, Ike did not fare so well. Even after being clean for over 10 years, he relapsed in 2004 while attempting to help a friend who was an addict. All it took was for him to smell the fumes and, at the age of 76, he was found dead of an overdose of cocaine. Tina is now happily married to Erwin Bach, has her two biological sons, great grandchildren, and living in Switzerland.

Tags: Song Meanings, Lyrics, And Facts | The 1970s | Then And Now | Tina Turner | Whats Love Got To Do With It

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Penny Chavers


Penny, besides writing, loves to spend her time with family and friends. In her spare time, she also enjoys playing the piano, board games, and taking online classes on topics that interest her.